Laguna Hills, CA – April 16, 2019 – Mazda North American Operations is recalling certain 2016-2018 Mazda 3 vehicles due to potentially inoperative front windshield wipers. Lack of visibility resulting from this issue could increase the risk of a crash. As many as 187,798 vehicles could be affected.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report on this problem, a defective windshield wiper relay could cause the front wipers to stop functioning. The problem stems from the heat generated during normal operation causing metal deposits to form on the relay, resulting in the sticking of relay contacts. When this happens, the defective component disrupts electrical power to the wiper motor. If the wipers become non-operative, the driver’s loss of visibility could increase the chance of a crash.
Timeline of Events
Mazda received the first reports of this issue Nov. 26, 2015 from a non-U.S. market. By February 2016, an investigation revealed that the problem was due to contamination and metal deposits occurring during the manufacturing process of the relay. The automaker began working with its suppliers August 2016 to uncover the root cause of the deposits. A very small amount of silicone had been detected at the contact points.
As the investigation continued, Mazda determined that only Mazda 3 models were affected, due to the specification of a capacitor in the wiper motor. By June 2017, silicon was ruled out as a root cause. In July, the wiper motor capacitor specification was changed as a preventive measure.
Although the origin of the problem had still not been discovered by Oct. 3, 2017, Mazda took the additional countermeasure of changing the wiper relay in the front body control module.
From January to August 2018, despite the fact that field failure rates were reported to be decreasing, the problem continued. In October, Mazda looked into the possibility of multiple root causes, including the wiper relay design, the wiper motor capacitor specification and welding waste of the fixation point of contact.
From November to December 2018, the automaker collected parts from the field for further investigation. By February 2019, Mazda determined that the reduced failure rate could not be assured of continuing, so it decided to conduct a proactive field action April 1, making plans for a recall of the affected vehicles.
The recall will begin June 3, 2019. Mazda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front body control module with a new module that uses an improved wiper relay design, free of charge.
Owners may contact Mazda customer service at 1-800-222-5500, option 4. Mazda’s number for this recall is 3219D. Owners may also contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov. The NHTSA Campaign Number for this recall is 19V272000.